Content Warning: Sexual Assault
This week multiple women and non-binary folks have come forward to reveal stories of sexual and emotional abuse in the gaming industry.
It began when award-winning indie game developer Nathalie Lawhead (Everything is Going to be Ok) published a blog post titled “Calling out my rapist,” in which they recount a horrifically abusive relationship with composer Jeremy Soule, best known for scoring the blockbuster Elder Scrolls RPG series.
“Jeremy told me where the inspiration for his music comes from. It was broken down in graphic detail by him. Skyrim came out after what he did to me. Part of me wonders how much of me is in that music too… I can’t listen to it. I can’t play these games anymore. When Bethesda announces anything at E3 it’s a personal nightmare because his music is part of it and I can’t tune it out.
He can’t bullshit about that. He talked so much about his music being about sex and women (women that, to my knowledge, he hurt).”
Later that day another survivor, Aeralie Brighton, came forward with emotional and sexual harassment involving Soule. In response, Soule has deleted all of his social media sites.
Soon afterward, another indie developer, Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest), who is no stranger to game industry controversy, abuse, and harassment, posted about a similar abusive situation with indie developer Alec Holowka (Night in the Woods).
I’ve been silent about this for almost my entire career and i can’t do it anymore. Sorry if this is rambling and messy, I’m scared shitless to out an industry legend like this but I can’t live with the secret anymore 1/2 pic.twitter.com/DpbhtuaoEP
— zoë “bi fieri” quinn (@UnburntWitch) August 27, 2019
“I’ve been so afraid for so long but felt so sick watching more people get hurt and too many colleagues watch, shrug and put him on stages. I just couldn’t pretend anymore. I hope you’ll understand,” Quinn wrote on Twitter. “I want things to change so badly because I know too many women and enbys with someone like this looming over them and we shouldn’t have to be afraid to just say things that happened. If you’re watching this and feeling Ways about stuff, my heart is with you.”
Holowka’s indie studio, Finji, posted a response on Twitter in which they severed all ties with Holowka, including canceling the upcoming physical release of Night in the Woods.
This week, allegations of past abuse have come to light regarding Alec Holowka, who was coder, composer, and co-designer on Night In The Woods. We take such allegations seriously as a team. As a result and after some agonizing consideration, we are cutting ties with Alec.
— Night In The Woods (@NightInTheWoods) August 28, 2019
In the wake of these events, more survivors are coming forward with their stories of sexual abuse by prominent game developers.
The #MeToo Movement originally started in 2017 with numerous claims of sexual abuse and harassment from many high-profile actresses in Hollywood. The infamous ousting of Hollywood magnate Harvey Weinstein trickled across a global scale as more survivors felt emboldened to share their stories across different industries and cultures.
At Pixelkin we believe and support all survivors of abuse. By bringing more of these stories to light and calling out abusive and criminal behavior, hopefully we can begin to shape game industry culture (and society) to be a more welcoming, inclusive, and safe community for everyone.